Growing Poinsettia As A Houseplant, Foliage And All

By Nikki Tilley | December 12, 2021
Image by Anna Ostanina
by Nikki Tilley
December 12, 2021

I once wrote about keeping poinsettia plants after Christmas even though the vast majority of us simply toss them out once the holidays end. I used to be on that list. Then one day I decided to see past my poinsettia plant’s red beauty, discovering the green leaves on poinsettias can be just as pretty.

Enjoying Red, and Green, Poinsettia Plants

In spite of caring for poinsettias as recommended, I could never get one to actually rebloom. Even with the best of care – nothing! No lovely red color. No pink. Not even a white one rebloomed. So, I would eventually submit to my defeat, throw in the towel and call it a day. There’s always next year, right? That was the old me. I don’t know why I hadn’t considered growing poinsettia as a houseplant beyond the holidays regardless of whether or not those colorful flower bracts returned. 

But then one year I decided to give it another try. And do you know what happened? I discovered that poinsettias can be just as lovely when grown for their foliage. In fact, in their native surroundings of Mexico, poinsettias are not the colorful potted plants we know and love. They’re actually small tree-like shrubs. With this in mind I decided to look at the poinsettia differently, not only enjoying its colorful bracts but embracing its shrubby foliage growth too. 

I still acquire various poinsettia plants each year, enjoying their beauty throughout the holiday season, but I no longer toss them once the holidays end. Of course, I may need to rethink this since I’m now growing more than I really need. I’ve managed to get a few to rebloom, though never as spectacularly as when I first obtained them. Mostly I just let them grow happily as shrubby foliage plants. They love the spring and summer heat, with afternoon shade. One of my favorite poinsettia plants, about 3-4 years old now, tops out at about three feet (.91 m.) tall. It’s no longer the bushy red plant it once was when I got it. Instead, it’s a nice healthy dark green. And I don’t mind at all. With annual pruning, you can easily maintain a more compact size and bushier look, but I only prune this one as needed so I can enjoy its interesting tree-like appearance. And the green leaves on poinsettias? Well, they’re okay too.

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  • David
    Comment added August 15, 2022Reply

    As a greenhouse grower I will tell you the secret to getting them to changing color. It is your day length, or the amount of sunlight or other light they get. When you day length gets below 12 hours, or here after the fall equinox, they naturally start to change color. Any additional light that is brighter than a candle will delay or prevent the the bracts from changing color. So if they are in your home put them in a room that you don't normally use in the evenings without an exterior source of light, like a street light, and they should change color on you. with this formula you can actually get them to change color whenever you want as long as the room you have them in is dark at least 12 hours a day. It is the same with garden mums, but we cheat with them and cover them with black cloth to get them to change color up to 8 weeks before they would naturally.

  • Ann Barton
    Comment added December 27, 2021Reply

    I take cuttings from a poinsettia plant that has survived two years and root them using rooting powder, then plant. After about two months they begin to increase in size and grow from the top and all the new leaves have turned red. I now have lots of baby plants with new red brachts!

    • Theresa
      Comment added January 11, 2022Reply

      Hi Ann - would really love to copy your idea, would you please tell me where you keep your cuttings to start with as I have not previously had any luck!
      Thank you

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